Is monetizing a blog is on your list of New Years resolutions? Look no further.
When I first launched my first blog ten years ago, I had no concept of how it was going to actually make money. Back then, I had a blog established for just a few short months before I made the decision to close down my brick and mortar, and move my business online. Today, I’m running a six figure business as a blogger.
Is it even possible to build a profitable business as a blogger in 2020? Without a doubt, YES-absolutely!
I’m going to cover how to build a profitable blog in two parts. Part I will cover how to lay the proper foundation for a profitable blog, which is particularly important for my new bloggers. If you are a seasoned and established blogger, you may want to skip directly to Part II, which will cover the actionable strategies to monetize your blog in 2020.
Part I: Laying the foundation for a profitable blog in 2020
The truth is, before we can even discuss ways to build a profitable blog, we need to first lay the groundwork for a blogging platform that is capable of generating traffic. The following steps are critical for anyone with the goal of monetizing a blog, regardless of where they are in the journey.
Step 1: identify the right niche for your blog
I’m sure you have been told before that you can build a successful blog focused on just about any topic under the sun. I would argue that this is only partially true. Your blog should be a right combination of topic(s) of personal interest and real world demand…period, full stop.
You may be highly knowledgeable and passionate about a topic—that’s a great start. Your blog should be broad enough to allow for a significant volume of engaging content. Once you have a blog concept, the next step is to determine your addressable market.
Do some research to see how many people are also interested in this space that you can reach. One resource is the Google keyword planner.
This tool will tell you how many people are specifically searching for your topic, in a general sense. In the example below, my query is “intermittent fasting”.
You can see the average monthly searches is 100K-1M which is relatively high. If you want to focus your niche even further you may want to refine to something like “intermittent fasting for women” where the competition is presumably lower. Low average monthly searches would be in the range of 0 to 10,000.
Another great resource is Buzzsumo. You can use this platform to explore trends in content shared across the web.
Below is the quick and dirty on Buzzsumo.
Plug in a topic or URL. Buzzsumo will return the most popular and trending subjects over a recent time period, broken down by months, days, even hours.
The example below is for the search “Keto Diet”. This gives you a general sense of volume of content on this topic across the web as well as the level of engagement.
Once you filter by a certain time period you be able to see the sharing metrics across popular social networks. You will also be able to see the most popular formats for a keyword. For example, you may see “step-by-step guide to ___” or “100 ways to ___”. Keep Buzzsumo in mind once you have settled into the best blog niche to narrow in on specific article/content ideas as well.
The process of identifying the right blog niche is not just about coming up with a general theme or thread that ties together blog content. Your blog niche is what drives your readers to return to your site daily, weekly, or monthly for fresh content. If you are writing a blog that is centered around “how to make money online” it’s important to stay on topic. Introducing new topics in lifestyle and politics may be of interest to you, but can negatively impact your readership over time.
Your blog niche defines your brand, dictating how and when you publish and promote other content. Once you have the niche dialed in, you can most effectively learn about your audience, including how and when they prefer to consume different types of content. And only then are you in the optimal position to market and monetize your blog. Having a targeted and highly engaged audience makes it substantially easier to get sponsorships, acceptance into affiliate programs, and implement advertising for maximum profits. Nailing your niche will open doors in the long run.
Step 2: know your tribe, grow your your tribe
Once you have settled on your niche, you should have a solid concept of who your audience is, and where they hang out on the web. It might make sense for you to focus on growing your email list if you have had success reaching them through that channel. Or perhaps a Facebook Group is the right platform to engage and grow your online community. Be prepared to experiment with several strategies to see what works best! Interacting with your audience is a critical step in understanding how they can be reached, what they like/dislike, and what drives their loyalty to a brand. What keeps them coming back to your sites and others? Build relationships, grow your tribe, and deliver to ensure a loyal following over time. Keep in mind your reader engagement is key metric advertisers use… and one that you can and should leverage at the right time!
You have Google Analytics on your site, right? If not, go ahead and add that now. Then go to your Analytics dashboard to gather insights into page views for different articles over a given period of time.
Above you can see the overall behavior and page views on one of my blogs.
Ultimately, blog monetization from engagement is largely just a numbers game. The more traffic you have to your site, the more sales. So now you’re probably wondering, how do I actually make money from traffic and engagement?
Before we get into that, let’s talk about the concept of conversion rate. The conversion rate is the percentage of users who take a desired action, which could be anything from clicking on a link to buying something on the site. Some of the top converting landing pages have rates hovering above 10%, but across industries, the average landing page conversion rate is 2.35%. This means of the total volume of traffic, or visitors to a page, 2.35% of users are taking the desired action. Of course, conversion rates can vary widely based on the type of site, what channel is used, and the desired action.
Once you start monetizing your blog, you will be able to calculate your conversion rate very easily. One way to “manipulate” your conversion rate is to tweak your offering (specifically your pricing) to ensure that there is alignment with customer perceived value. Of course, if you are promoting an affiliate product, you will have less flexibility on modifying the price, but you are certainly in the position to do so if you are selling your own product.
Step 3: craft viral, attention-grabbing headlines
What makes people click through to an article, or even share an article without reading it?
The definitive answer is “the headline”. The headline is the most important string of keywords in any piece of content gold. So what is the recipe for a viral headline?
I have referenced BuzzSumo now a couple of times as an excellent resource to identify trending articles, keywords and topics for content.
Buzzsumo recently published a report that analyzed the structural content of viral posts to identify patterns.
The data suggested that viral headlines include at least one but often several of the following elements:
- Emotional Element: inspiring, amusing, heart-warming, shocking
- Content Element: images, charts, quotation, facts
- Topic Element: trending topic (ex. Unicorns), babies, health
- Format Element: quiz, research report
- Promise Element: How to… or The Complete Guide to
I’ve used every combination of these elements, but I personally most often use the promise element and the topic element.
So for instance, I may log on Buzzsumo to research the hottest topics in the past 24 hours by country, keyword, domain, content type and/or social platform. Then, I’ll select that trending topic (say it’s in the health domain) and build a Promise Element around it like: “How intermittent fasting changes your hormones and body in 24 hours”.
The headline gives clear promise of explaining the “why” and “how” to pique interest. The headline is also very clear about what will be covered. It’s not too vague to signal “spam” to anyone reading the headline. One note of caution: headlines will perform differently based on the platform. For example, if you are experimenting with different headline formats, you may find that quizzes work very well on Facebook but not as well on other social channels. I suggest coming up with a headline concept, then tweak the format and elements outlined above to compare performance on various social channels.
If you’re still looking for more on crafting viral headlines, be sure to checkout my post 150 Tips to Create Attention-Grabbing Viral Headlines Even if you Aren’t a Copywriter
Step 4: write consistently and often
There is this held belief that bloggers can just write one (or even several posts) at a time and sit back and reap the benefits for weeks to follow. Not a single blogger can publish 50 articles at once and then fail for post for a couple of months without a decline in traffic. The only exception may be in the case of a post that goes viral from time to time, but Google rewards consistent publishing….and so will your readership if you can offer regular, fresh content that gives your audience reason to visit your site frequently. Once you gain a little bit of traction with your blog posts, it’s important to keep hitting that publish button to grow your traffic a little more each week.
There are hundreds, even millions of articles on literally every subject available online, making it increasingly more difficult to make an impact online. If you get stuck coming with fresh blog ideas, don’t forget about your friend BuzzSumo.
While blogs can provide some degree of passive income, if your goal is to really scale your business over time, it’s important to keep putting out information to engage your audience.
Here are some ideas on how to get in the publishing groove:
-Use Buzzsumo to build on trending ideas
-Create a content calendar at the beginning of each month (or whatever frequency works for you) to get on a schedule
-Time block and dedicate a few (for me it’s at least 10-12) hours per week to writing for your blog
-Aim to write “substantial” (in terms of word count) articles that are at least 1,500 words. These articles will give you more SEO “juice” and help with your google rankings, and thus site traffic.
Most importantly, you need to find a blogging schedule that works for you and stick to it. The most successful, and trafficked blogs post several times a week, or even daily. Google rewards regular posting, increasing your traffic, which in turn will increase your subscribers and returning readers over time. All of these metrics will make your blog a more attractive channel/platform for advertisers. Moreover, these factors are critical for laying the proper foundation for a profitable blog in 2020.
Step 5: be an SEO ninja
So you have some killer content for your blog. Now in order for your hard work to pay off, you need to hone your SEO skills to extend your reach.
In order to leverage all that free, organic traffic from Google (and other search engines) you will need insight into how the algorithm works, and thus how to create high-ranking content.
Always start with a keyword in mind for each blog post. This is one of the most important aspects of SEO. This keyword phrase MUST be one that people are actually searching and engaging with online. Try to limit the keyword phrase to two to three words. The more keywords you try to “stuff” into a headline, the more awkward and spammy it may sound.
A few things to keep in mind
-Use the keywords in both the headline AND the body of the post
-Try to use the keywords early in the headline. The keywords at the beginning of the headline are weighted more i.e. will rank higher than those near the end.
-Repeat the keywords throughout the article to help your rankings
You did it. You made it to the end of Part I, which means you’re well on your way to building a strong foundation for blog monetization. It takes a lot of work to build the proper foundation, but I assure you your hard work will pay off in the long run. Having the proper foundation in place ensures you are in the best position to scale your traffic and monetize all your hard work with a profitable blog in 2020.
Here we go, onto the good stuff.
How to make money with your blog in 2020
First, there are literally dozens of ways to monetize your blog. Here I’m going to cover a pared down list of the most proven and widely applicable strategies to monetize your blog that I’ve personally used in my own businesses. However, don’t let me stop you from experimenting with the other seemingly endless methods to generate revenue on your blog! You’ve invested the time to build your platform and you should absolutely leverage your audience and brand to grow profits in a way that works for you.
Here are the following high-level strategies which I will cover in more detail to follow.
The first way to make money online (also the category you are likely the most familiar with) is Advertising. What you may not know, is that advertising on your blog goes beyond banners ads. There are several types of ways to monetize from sponsored blog content, to affiliate programs, to blog advertisements.
- Business partnerships
These can take several forms, but basically any arrangement that involves cross-selling and collaboration to optimize reach (and profits).
- Create/sell an online product
This includes: online courses, physical products, software tools, your own services, eBooks, virtual summits. In this guide we will cover a handful of these, walking through steps to create products for promotion on your blog.
- Freelance work
Technically this could be grouped with number 3, but it really deserves it’s own category. For example, there has been explosive growth in online freelance proofreading. Quite a few of them have built their business on their blog which is a critical piece in their sales funnel of building trust with new clients.
The first way to make money blogging, and perhaps more obvious is to make a profit from the actual content you create. This can take several forms of course. If you have enough traffic to your site (usually a function of the volume of content) you could run ads on your site to make passive income from your blog. However, there are quite a few other types of advertising, like sponsored content, where are you are paid by brands to (usually) write about a line of their products.
With that, let’s get started with Sponsored Content.
Sponsored content is when a brand or advertiser pays you to write an article about their company or a featured product, where you would typically provide direct links to their site for more information or to purchase.
In the example below PureWow, a women’s lifestyle publisher covering Food, partnered with PureNatha Foods in an article “5 Paleo Snack and Dessert Recipes You Need to Bookmark, Stat”.
The paleo recipes are on-trend with their audience that is very health-focused, as is the sponsor brand, PureNatha.
I have seen sponsored content executed beautifully with great success. And I’ve also seen publishers produce content that doesn’t reflect their true voice which turns out to be a massive failure for everyone. If your blog is based on Health and Weightloss, you probably have no business partnering with Lowe’s on a sponsored post about home improvement. Unless you can come up with a REALLY good spin to appeal to your audience, but that would be a serious challenge. Even if you get paid by an advertiser to run the post, it could be a turnoff for your audience leading to long term consequences for your brand including a fall-off in readership. You must remain authentic to your brand, and listen to your audience!
The model of advertising through sponsored posts is a tried and true strategy that mostly works (makes $$$) for advertisers and publishers… as long as the partnership makes sense.
Again, when I say the partnership “makes sense” or is “executed well”, I mean the piece of sponsored content is still reflective of your brand, aligns with your brand. The content typically comes off as genuine because it’s a topic that is covered in the blog (or at least in the same domain), so it does not feel invasive or spammy.
Studies have shown that people remember branded content twice as long as they remember traditional ads. Sponsored content is becoming more popular as research continues to indicate that marketing a product with quality content is much more effective (as in 3x as many leads) as paid search advertising. Just to clarify, sponsored content is distinctly different from native ads. Native ads are paid for by the advertiser and are designed to look as if they naturally belong on a website. Sponsored content is when the advertiser pays a publisher to produce and distribute the sponsored content or “campaign”. When the partnership makes sense and the campaign is executed well, sponsored content will make you seem more credible and trustworthy.
If you have an established, highly trafficked blog you’ve likely already been approached by brands for sponsorship opportunities. But if not, and even if you are fairly new to blogging, there are still ways to profit from sponsored content.
You may have some “dream partnerships” in mind. What products and brand could you passionately support?
Next you’ll need to prepare your:
-“Pitch” for brand outreach
A media kit is a way to showcase key metrics about your audience and engagement. A media kit will also typically include collaboration options and sometimes even pricing for your services. This will help the advertiser determine whether there is a good fit and also help them determine how much the investment might be worth. You can use Microsoft Powerpoint or even free platforms such as Canva to create your media kit. A media kit will not only make you look professional but also helps build your case, or your “pitch” as to why they should work with you.
Next you’re going to have to pull together your “pitch”. Your pitch will be brief and included in an outreach email to someone in marketing or PR at the target company. In your pitch you will want to introduce yourself and your blog, and offer very high level stats about your readership, for example “I reach about X monthly subscribers”. You may also want to one or a couple of ideas on the content you have in mind to promote their product or company. Oftentimes media contacts for sponsorship will be listed directly on a website under contacts.
If you plan to leverage sponsored content as a core stream of revenue on your blog, you may also want to consider publishing your media kit somewhere on your site as well as a contact form or email for sponsorships.
Another form of advertising and sponsorship may come in the form of podcast sponsorships. Since this post is primarily focused on monetizing your blog, I will only cover podcasts briefly. But did you ever consider moving your blog over to audio format?
As I mention in my post Top 3 Podcast Hosts, Gary Vaynerchuck himself identified podcasts as the number one way to grow your business in 2020. Audio consumption is simply off the charts.
The rule of thumb is $20 per ad, per 1000 downloads. However, there are plenty of podcasts out there that have significantly smaller audiences that are still monetizing. Be sure to check out my post on the top three podcast hosts. Each of these platforms have unique, built-in monetization opportunities for podcasters.
Same goes for podcasting as does for blogging: the larger your audience, the greater the potential profits. If you’re looking to dabble in podcasting, you could try converting your most popular existing blog posts into audio content. One version of “cross-selling” on podcasts, is to bring on guests to attract more interest and grow your followers. If you choose to actively seek sponsorships, you will want to follow the same process to create a media kit and “pitch” the target brands.
First off, what is affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing is a way to earn income each time you promote someone else’s products or brand. Affiliate products could be anything from online programs like Clickfunnels or hosting services from Bluehost, for example. I mention these two affiliate programs in particular because they are great products and I have had (and continue to have) enormous success promoting both. Oftentimes, you are rewarded for each sale (or some other type of resulting action, could just big a click-through) for your marketing efforts.
Affiliate marketing and sponsored content are similar in the sense that as a blogger or publisher, you are rewarded for conversions resulting from your marketing efforts. However, affiliate marketing is particularly attractive because you are able to leverage professional marketing staff and copywriters that have prepared the copy you need to promote their products.You also do not have to offer any kind of customer support—you simply refer traffic or convert leads to sales and collect a large piece of the pie.
I first came across affiliate marketing when I was studying other bloggers and online marketers. They were taking 40% commission on products, just for referring traffic or leads to the advertisers sales page. You’ll find the e-products typically have the highest commission rate because the margins are close to 100%
At the time, my main form of outreach was blogging and email marketing versus social channels. I had 2,000 people on my email list. I was referred to Clickbank which is one of several affiliate marketing platforms. To this day, I recommend Maxbounty and Clickbank for affiliate products. However, the products on these platforms also seem to align best with my blogging niche(s). Here is a screenshot of the Maxbounty interface with the “Maxbounty picks” affiliate campaigns. When you select one of these products you will see the terms of collecting affiliate commission and sales copy you can use to promote the product. Be sure to use your customized affiliate link to collect commission on any traffic you refer.
Some other well-known affiliate marketing platforms include for example, ShareASale and Amazon Associates but there are a ton of options for joining profitable affiliate programs.
Back to my story…. browsing on Clickbank, I was able to identify an interesting product in the health and weight loss domain that aligned with my blog niche. Oftentimes on Clickbank, the advertiser will provide what’s called a SwipeFile (basically sales copy) that can be used to promote their products. I was able incorporate this product into my sales funnel which looked something like this:
- Blog to lead magnet
- Lead magnet (oftentimes an eBook or another product) in exchange for an email address
- Email address allows to promote your products and affiliate products
To this day, my sales funnels look very similar or identical to the above. Another benefit of affiliate marketing is that you rarely need to apply or satisfy any user engagement thresholds to join the program(s).
Did I mention some affiliate products and programs offer lifetime recurring commission? This means for subscription or recurring sales products, you earn a lifetime commission as long as your referral remains a customer.
If affiliate marketing is of interest to you, I recommend checking out my posts detailing some of the best affiliate programs for bloggers.
Now let’s move on to…
Blog advertisements are hands down the easiest way to make money blogging. However, it also has the lowest relative return versus other monetization streams.
Just to offer some perspective, one of my blogs centered around health and weight loss has about 7,000 visitors a day. For that traffic, I earn about $100 a day for advertisements on my site. Now, granted, I am putting in approximately zero effort to collect about $3,000 a month beyond maintaining the traffic to my site. I should note that there are quite a few variables at play in determining the payout. Health and diet blogs, for instance, earn significantly less than blogs in the financing and investments domain. Mediavine averages between $10 and $25 per 1000 impressions.
There are quite a few ad platforms out there which do require you to become an approved publisher. These ad platforms does all the heavy lifting of brokering deals with advertisers that want to reach a given audience. The best route to go is with more curated ad networks that are going to serve ads that are highly relevant to your audience. However, if you’re relatively new, Google Adsense is a popular ad platform and very easy to get started. You will need to sign up and embed code on your site in the appropriate location (where the ad will go). Advertisers will then bid on your site and that ad position. Again, you won’t have control over the brands and types of ads served but it’s a place to start with blog advertisements. Some other ad networks to consider : Mediavine, Media.net, and Taboola.
Business Partnerships is a catchall category for the endless collaboration opportunities made possible with a platform (blog) and traffic.
Affiliate marketing discussed previously is also technically a form of a business partnership. Another form of collaboration could include co-developing a product and sharing lists to promote the product. Oftentimes, bloggers will partner with email marketers that have a large and loyal audience. Essentially the value-add that marketer brings is a large audience of subscribers. I should note that the marketers subscribers and audience could come from anywhere. If your target audience hangs out on Pinterest, and you want to grow that traffic, it might make sense to partner with someone whose bread and butter is Pinterest. The bottom line is, once you have an audience to leverage, the doors open for many different monetization opportunities.
Early in my blogging career, I partnered with a chiropractor to develop a digital product based on our collective expertise in fitness and chiropractic medicine. We were able to cross-sell and share lists to grow both of our networks and maximize profits.
If there’s a blogger or marketer out there (heck, even someone that will let you customize a white-labeled product to fit your niche), find the win-win and pitch a new business partnership. You may need to pitch the prospective partner in the same way you would pitch a prospective sponsor.
Create and Sell a Product
Now that we have covered ways to profit selling affiliate products, let’s talk about ways to make money selling your own products. If you’ve had any success selling affiliate products or promoting other products in general, you understand how important it is that you stand behind the product or otherwise believe that it is highly relevant to your audience. For many bloggers, the natural solution is to create their own products. Don’t let the thought of this overwhelm you! I will offer several ideas and real-world examples of types of products and how to make money with your blog in 2020.
First, let’s talk about e-courses. If you’re writing a blog, you likely have some valuable information to share. There is likely some sort of “skill” that can/will emerge to sell to others. It is important to first determine whether you have some audience that would be willing to pay for a course. If you are not sure, you can always poll your audience to gauge interest. You could even ask for your most-engaged followers to pre-order the course at a significant discount. The point is, you need to make sure people are willing to invest in your course before you spend a significant number of hours building it.
If you have a large following on Pinterest, courses on growing social media following are popular. People love a great story and your best “how-to’s”!
The best part about online courses is that there is no physical product, inventory to manage, and very little overhead to produce other than time. You can easily leverage free platforms like YouTube to offer instructional videos or just pdf documents as coursework. If you are interested in building your first e-course, the easiest option is to create a short course which includes a video series. The video series could total simply 1-2 hours of content on your niche.
Other (most like future) options like Udemy and Skillshare could also serve as a platform to host your course. You have complete command over how long and in-depth you would like the course to be.
Did you know that literally anyone can become a published author now?
In the same way you can convert your hard work from blog posts to audio format for a podcast, or video format for an e-course, you can also convert your blog posts to an e-book.
If you in the health and fitness space, why not convert those recipes and workouts to an e-book? E-books can be as simple as a compilation of your best blog posts with some new formatting and images. Ebooks typically have some sort of chapter organization. You may want to start with your blog posts and further break down the text into sub-headers and incorporate visuals to make the content more digestible. This type of EBook would be a compiled blog post series but there are many different EBook to consider. For example, another popular Ebook concept is a “playbook” which is a “how to” book that an audience ca used to execute a new project. Assuming this new “project” aligns with your passion, experience, and/or expertise, you can always use EBooks to plug other relevant products and services.
Remember when we were talking about affiliate sales, and my first sales funnel with affiliate sales? If you recall an Ebook was my “sales magnet”. Keep in mind, Ebooks can also be used to upsell other products or freelance services, for example. If you plan to use Ebooks in this way, be sure to incorporate “calls to action” throughout the book.
Once you have completed your Ebook you willl need to convert it to a format for distribution. Below are the different formats:
PDF: “Portable Document Format”, also the most common and popular file format. This is the preferred format for Ebooks that are to be read on the computer.
EPUB: “Electronic Publication” is a more flexible format that allows texts to adapt to different devices from mobile to tablet. This format is useful if the intention is for your audience to read the Ebook from mobile devices.
AZW: This EBook format is designed specifically for the Amazon Kindle but it can be opened and read on mobile, tablets, and computers.
ODF: “OpenDocument Format” which is primarily intended for Open Office. OpenOffice is an open source software suite.
Once you’re ready to publish your Ebook, one option is to self-publish and market your Ebook directly through your blog. If you choose this approach, you will want to create a separate landing page to promote your EBook.
Another attractive option to publish through Amazon. The advantage of publishing through Amazon is that you have a significantly larger reach. Your Ebook will be discoverable through their Ebook store and you can expect to sell a larger volume of Ebooks. However in exchange, Amazon does take a royalty on EBook sales. For Ebooks priced between $2.99 and $9.99 Amazon pays a royalty of 70% For EBooks priced below $2.99 or above $9.99, Amazon pays out 35%. The process to sell EBooks is otherwise free and very easy.
- Create an Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Account. Your Ebook does not have to be in Kindle format yet. Sign up is free, and if you already have an Amazon account, you will use the same credentials. Sign up here
- Add your Ebook to the bookshelf. You will do this from the top left-hand corner (once logged in) where it says “Add New Title”. Follow prompts to add information where needed. You do NOT need an ISBN number to sell your book on Amazon!
- Upload your EBook. At this point your Ebook will need to be in Kindle format. You can convert before uploading, or upload the PDF or Word file to have Amazon do the conversion for you. Conversion can distort formatting so be sure to check the upload before proceeding to the next step.
- Wait for publication. Amazon will now review your uploaded EBook prior to publishing on their site. The step of the process can take 1-2 days. Once it is approved you will receive an email with a link to your published EBook for you to distribute.
Note: you will have the option of designating your EBook as “KDP Select”. This means your book will available to a wider audience on the Amazon Kindle lending library, which could mean higher royalties. However, your EBook must remain exclusive to Amazon as long as you are enrolled in the program. This mean you will not be able to sell your EBook elsewhere as long as you are designated as KDP Select.
I have written quite a few Ebooks over the years and have experimented with several different strategies. Depending on your strategy, it could make sense to give away an EBook in exchange for an email address to upsell on higher ticket consulting services or products. Otherwise, the EBook might be the actual product. In this case, you will want to base the book price on any overhead (including time) to publish while also taking into account how much your audience might be willing to pay. The circumstances will be different every time, so it’s important to know your different options.
Now that I’ve spoken to the merits of digital products, I know this idea is going to sound far less appealing but don’t write it off yet. I mentioned the value in NOT having to manage inventory with digital products. If you have any interest in selling physical products at all, the drop-shipping model has changed the game of running an online store without the need to store and manage inventory.
I experimented with this a while back. My product in this case had absolutely nothing to do with my blog, so I did have to market separately on platforms other than my blog(s). I had an idea to create a dog collar with LED Christmas lights. I found a supplier on Alibaba and he provided me with a sample at my request. Once I approved the sample and we reached an agreement on cost/unit, he was able to drop-ship the collars directly to my customers’ doorsteps. There are typically several manufacturers that are able to produce any given item and correspondence and communication are important! Choose your manufacturer i.e. business partner wisely.
While the Christmas light LED dog collar gig wasn’t a long-term pursuit, there are bloggers running very successful drop-shipping businesses directly from their blog. You’ll need to start with an idea. If you are in the health and fitness space, perhaps this is a workout band, or some kind of fitness gear is a good place to start. The key is to find an existing product category with proven demand and then locate a manufacturer on Alibaba to create a private-label product for you. Below is the Alibaba interface with the sample search “LED christmas light dog collar” returning 593 results.
I said it once, and I’ll say it again… it is critically important to request product samples before taking your idea “to market”–especially with a drop-ship business.
The final step will be to set up an online store that is connected to your blog with a platform like Shopify.
From my experience selling physical products, I can say that this strategy for blog monetization works best when you can offer a product that aligns naturally with your niche and there is a known demand from your audience. It is a great way to build your brand and grow your tribe. While there is a significant earning potential, there is also risk involved in physical product. Be sure to come up with a clear pricing strategy that takes into account all the overhead to manufacture and support your physical product.
The last item in this category that I will cover is…
Sell your own services
Selling your own services is very similar, of course, to selling online courses and freelance work. The major distinction is that online services are usually much more targeted and personalized. For example, in the health and fitness space, I successfully promote and sell individual and group coaching. This is not the type of service that I could even offer freelance, in particular on some of the popular freelance sites like Fiverr and Upwork.
Promoting and selling your experience and expertise involves a more customized approach and personalized deliverables. Conceptually, selling services is very similar to the other strategies though that involve identification of a desirable skill that you can “sell” and finding the right channel to monetize. Services and freelance work will mean essentially the same thing in some industries. For instance, if you are an expert in SEO, you might be able to offer your services on your blog/ website as a freelancer.
Selling services is a natural way to slowly build a profit from your blog. The one thing to note is that this strategy will not scale quite as easily as selling affiliate an affiliate product or creating an EBook, for instance. However, the earning potential could be significant if you are charging high end hourly rates for your effort and time.
As an individual and group coach, I have incorporated additional value by promoting access to exclusive group forums. Everyone loves VIP, exclusive access! In the fitness industry in particular, the group forum community is a great way to offer additional support and accountability (with very little effort) to supplement the one-on-one coaching.
4. Freelance work
For many bloggers, freelance work makes up the majority of their blogging income. Freelance work is a great way to build and grow your network that will ultimately open doors to other monetization opportunities.
For example, I already mentioned the trending online proofreading businesses. Starting a blog is a great way to essentially build an online portfolio of your sample work. If they are on your blog in the first place, they are a prospective client as long as the services offered are in align with your niche and the needs of your audience.
You will likely want to create a separate landing page specifically for your freelance work, much like a product sales page. You can cover services offered or even link to third-party freelance sites like Fiverr and Upwork. If you’re not ready to jump into some of the more strategic and time-consuming models for growing blog profits, freelance work might be the best solution for you.
That about sums it up. Are you ready to get started? Where are you on building the foundation of your blog?
Be sure you have nailed part one of this guide before all else!